KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the calendar approaches the beginning of another month, and another rent payment, protesters from KC Tenants gathered outside - and inside - the Jackson County, Missouri, courthouse Thursday to demand an end to evictions.
Although the county's moratorium on evictions expired on May 31, the continued economic uncertainty associated with the coronavirus pandemic has added urgency to the debate.
While some protesters gathered outside the courthouse rallied in favor of tenants' rights, a handful of others went inside in an attempt to disrupt hearings in the court.
In a statement, a Jackson County District Court spokesperson said protesters chanted over the judge, plaintiffs and defendants, interfering with the rights of others, including tenants.
"Those persons who disrupted today’s court proceedings, although ultimately unsuccessful in their attempt to keep the hearings from occurring, actually interfered with the rights of the parties who were attempting to participate in those proceedings – including attorneys who were there representing the rights of the very tenants for whom those protesters were purportedly advocating," a statement read.
The spokesperson said the court was upholding laws that are currently in effect. Those protesting the court - the spokesperson said, should instead lobby the executive and legislative leaders to change the laws.
In a press release announcing the event, KC Tenants claimed more than 1,000 evictions have been heard in the court since the moratorium was lifted at the end of May.
On Thursday, the court argued the decision to suspend the cases is out of its hands.
“As a part of the judicial branch of our government, and under these circumstances, our Court is compelled to protect the rights of all parties in cases filed here, by enforcing the law through procedures that are currently in place,” the court said.
“If the executive or legislative branches of government decide to change those existing laws or procedures, the Court will enforce and give effect to those new laws and procedures, too,” the court said.